CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Every year the Marines of Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, construct a bridge for The World Famous Mud Race, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., May 29, 2014. The Mud Run is an annual 10-kilometer race with several obstacles, which can be negotiated individually or as a team. This year they built a bridge spanning 71 feet and weighing about nine tons.
“Building the bridge was a little bit more difficult than usual, due to the terrain, but we did an engineering reconnaissance before we came out here,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher De Casanova, combat engineer, Bridge Company.
Scouting the construction site beforehand is ordinarily done by more senior Marines, who know what to look for, to formulate a plan and ensure their Marines are safe during the construction, allowing the bridge to be built efficiently. However, their platoon sergeant wanted to provide the junior Marines with a unique learning experience. Sergeant Samuel Diaz, the platoon sergeant, said it was important for developing the leadership of junior Marines who will one day be in a leadership position.
“This is the first time we are building on a slope like this,” said Diaz, a native of Houston. “There were a few hiccups along the way, but now we have a sturdy bridge, and my Marines gained a lot of confidence when it comes to working in a less-than optimal environment.” Adding that the junior Marines gained insight to what they will do as leaders, Diaz said they were able to identify the difficulties involved with the bridging procedure. The most significant of which, were the unstable slope and narrow passage they worked in.
Unlike the majority of the bridges they build when training, this one will need to remain standing for the duration of the races.
“Usually we build a bridge and tear it down right after,” said De Casanova. “This time hundreds of people will run across it, including us. It is satisfying to see our hard work pay off in a real situation.”
On June 6, the Marines who built the bridge plan to participate in the Mud Run, as a unit, to increase morale. They will also be volunteering to support the event.